My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Reel American Heroes Foundation, Woodbridge, VA, USA
I was wounded in 2006 and since then have struggled with physical pain every day of my life. That pain coupled with continuous mental stress related to life after the military has made things very challenging for me. While I try to not show it has effected me in front of my family, it is a battle I fight every day that has taken its toll. This is where Ronald DeFreitas and the Reel American Heroes Foundation comes in. I have always enjoyed fishing (since I was 3) but never did I realize why until after my injuries. When I am on the water, I don't think about anything but the fish. "How will I get them to bite? What bait or technique should I use? How deep are they?" Other times, I don't think of anything more than the beauty of nature around me and the peaceful silence of it all. While the physical pain is still present and the problems that have caused my mental/emotional issues haven't gone away, I am not focussed on anything other than the task at hand.
I first found out about the Reel American Heroes Foundation and their tournaments last year. I started looking up information about them and seeing all of the positive comments the Wounded Warriors before me had made. I emailed them and Executive Director & Founder Ronald DeFreitas immediately got back to me saying they would love for me to participate. Well, I have to say that aside from meeting/marrying my wife and the birth of my children, the Reel American Heroes Foundation tournament was one of the single most awesome days of my life. I was paired up with a local pro who showed me techniques I hadn't previously known. I met a ton of awesome people who were there for one or two reasons: either they were like me and needed a relaxing, therapeutic day on the water or they were there to help people like me. WHAT AN AWESOME FEELING!
I was able to meet so many great folks and make friendships that still exist to this day because of our common love for fishing and injuries. I was able to meet some of the BASS Elite Pros that have been my idols for year. I was able to gain sponsorship for what I love to do. I was able to learn that I can help others in the same or way worse condition as me and as a result started volunteering as a fishing guide for Wounded Warior kayak fishing trips. Most importantly, I was able to realize that there are other ways to deal with the pain and stress that do far more for the mind and soul than any medication ever could. I have now been to two events and plan on continuing to attend all future ones. Thank you RAHF and Ronald for helping me and my family, it means the world.